The most comprehensive study of in-home formaldehyde emissions to be conducted in more than a decade shows that emissions from new permanent press clothing, paints, floor finishes, wallpaper and fingernail polishes may be more significant than previously recognized. Formaldehyde, a suspected human carcinogen, is used in the production of some building materials, cosmetics, home furnishings and textiles.
The study, involving 55 diverse materials and consumer products, was conducted by researchers at Battelle laboratories in Columbus, Ohio. The results are reported in the Nov. 7 web edition of the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology, published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society. The article will appear in the Jan. 1 print issue of the semimonthly peer-reviewed journal. "Products such as new clothing, paints and finishes, wallpaper, and fingernail polishes and hardeners can emit substantial amounts of formaldehyde,"according to chemist Thomas Kelly, Ph.D., a Battelle senior research scientist and lead author of the article. Often the initial emission rates from such products exceed those of uncovered pressed-wood products, which are noted for formaldehyde emissions, according to Kelly. "By far, the worst non-wood product emissions came from acid-cured floor finishes," which are commercially applied to wood floors, Kelly claims. "The initial emission rates from both the base and top coats of this product were very high," he says, up to 1,000 times more than those from wood products. "Even after 24 hours of drying, each coat emitted at a steady rate that was five to 10 times higher than emissions from even the very worst wood product."
Fingernail hardeners and polishes also are high emitters of formaldehyde. For equal surface
areas of product, emissions from these cosmetics during the first hour after application are
Contact: Charmayne Marsh
American Chemical Society